THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA. 2013. DIRECTED BY ISAO TAKAHATA. STARRING ASI ASAKURA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This gorgeous animated fantasy-drama film, produced by Studio Ghibli, was a joy to watch on the big screen. Based on an old Japanese fairytale, THE TALE OF THE BAMBOO-CUTTER, it tells the story of a very special girl, the titular Princess Kaguya.
Miyatsuko is a humble bamboo-cutter who one day discovers a tiny princess inside a bamboo-stalk. You know the way that that can happen… He brings her home to his wife who is thrilled with the new addition to the family. They both agree to raise her as their own.
It must be said that the sequence in which the rapidly-growing baby discovers that she can roll, crawl and even walk is an absolute delight and had everyone in the cinema ooh-ing and aah-ing as a collective unit.
The little family live in the countryside and so the Princess is allowed to run wild with her friends, to one of whom, a young man called Sutemaru, she becomes especially attached. She is therefore absolutely gutted when one day she returns home from a day of playing in the woods and fields to be told some devastating news by her parents.
The three of them are moving to the capital so that she can live as befits the Princess that she is supposed to be, as opposed to the wild-haired ragamuffin that she has been since she could walk. As they walk away from their home, the shot of the poor abandoned ingredients for the pheasant stew she has promised her friends is soooo sad.
Using gold that he found inside another bamboo-stalk, sure proof in Miyatsuko’s eyes that his daughter is regal and must therefore be raised as such, the Princess’s Dad has built a palace for his little girl to live in. He has kitted her out with beautiful clothes to wear and he has also engaged a governess to teach her how to behave like a lady.
At first, the Princess is thrilled to bits with all her fancy new duds and the lovely mansion but she soon begins to feel hemmed-in, especially when the suitors come a-calling… This part is hilarious. The suitors, who have heard about the Princess’s legendary beauty, set out their stalls only to be rejected by the Princess, who yearns for the woods and fields of her old life and also for a certain young man whose name may or may not begin with ‘S…’
Her parents are at a loss to understand why their beautiful daughter has rejected the advances of the Emperor, who has also thrown his hat into the ring, when the Princess Kaguya shocks them with a revelation that changes the course of all of their lives forever…
This is a charming film that adults and children alike can find pleasure in. The cinematography is stunning and there’s a memorable musical score by Joe Hisaishi. The movie is a butt-numbing two and a quarter hours long but the pay-off is worth it. It’s the perfect family film but it’s more thoughtful, intelligent and heartwarming than your average slice of Hollywood hogwash.
Treat yourself and the kids to THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGAWA the first chance you get. You’re worth it and besides, they’ll thank you for it.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: